By Jonathan Davies

The single largest North Sea gas investment in more than a decade has been given the go-ahead.

UK Oil & Authority said Maersk Oil's £3 billion Culzean field will produce enough gas to fulfill 5% of the UK's total requirements.

Maersk Oil said the development has been made possible by new advancements in exploration technology and tax incentives announced by the Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget.

The project is expected to support the creation of 6,000 jobs in the UK, with 400 coming on the rig itself.

Gas extraction is likely to begin in 2019, with peak production coming at least 13 years later when the equivalent of 60,000-90,000 barrels will be produced per day.

Chief executive of Maersk Oil, Jakob Thomasen, said: "Culzean is an important development for the UK and also for Maersk Oil and our co-venturers.

"We are pleased the field will support UK economic growth as well as extend understanding of HPHT development.

"Culzean is the latest in a series of large investments by Maersk Oil in the North Sea where we are active in Denmark, Norway and the UK - reflecting our commitment to the future of the North Sea region."

Andy Samuel, chief executive of the Oil & Gas Authority, said: "Maersk Oil and partners' £3bn investment to develop the Culzean discovery is excellent news for the UK during a period when the decline in global oil prices has created difficult operating conditions for this critical sector of our economy."

Chancellor George Osborne said: "Today's (Monday) announcement sends a clear signal that the North Sea is open for business. Already the UK's oil and gas industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and this £3bn investment comes on the back of massive government support for the sector."